Thursday, 5 May 2011

Entry the Final

As you’ve been reading this blog you may have noticed a trend. When Im happy with the place I am with my work I feel more inclined to post.

If a character was made I would post

If I had learnt a new awesome skill I would post.

Alas I haven’t felt that I’ve gotten to a place I want to be with the last stage of this project hence the lack of posts.

Against my sensibilities I’m forced to post up a final entry for this semester for the hand in so this entry will contain work done so far and what I intend to get done within the last week of this project

Before I get into that though I suppose I should post my feelings on the last two lecturers we had.

First up is James Corazzo. James is a graphic design lecturer at Stockport College and exuded a powerful feeling of self assurance and arrogance. If he was a robot he would be made by Apple Mac. I settled in all ready to be bored/smug/hate filled as he announced that this lecture would be “About Nothing” and that “It will be the only lecture he does where if someone said to him I learnt about nothing in that lecture he would be happy” yes yes, I was ready.

Then a tragic thing happened. The lecture was actually the most interesting one we’ve had to date. It was less about learning and more about pointing things out. He pointed out how important negative space is in every aspect of design and life and I was enthralled. Everything about his demeanour and the way he spoke made me dislike him but the subject matter was too engaging for me to dismiss him.

Further compounding my love have relationship with Mr Corazzo was the fact that when I was looking for information on him for this essay, images of previous pieces and works he had done, I infuriatingly found barely anything! In fact all I found was a lot of people saying how great he was. This led to me having to reference a project at Stockport he did instead of his actual design work.

Next up is Michael Marriott, a product designer. Not much can really be said about Michael. He was terribly dull and his work seemed to mainly exist as a platform for other peoples works (mainly an artist named Anthony Burrill). Brilliantly it was the only lecture that was dull enough to make the guy in charge of the lecture actually want it to end instead of trying to drag out as much info from Michael as possible. Ah, the little things in life…

Now, the WORK.

So when I began this project I envisioned doing animation, two characters, two different sets of animations, a simple project. Alas Josh decided to push my buttons and get me making something that would be far more interesting.

I decided then that I would make a set of models that told a story. That soon changed into a digital comic with interactive panels where at key points in the action the viewer would be guided through the panel then back out into the story. This iteration is what I wanted to do more than anything. Alas my own inexperience with Maya was my undoing. I was striving for something I simply couldn’t do and that disheartened me and caused me to fall behind. Whereas in the first semester I had everything done in good time this semester I find myself fighting to get things done on time.

To date I have managed to-

Create 4 characters

Unwrap and texture all 4 of them

Rig 3 of them

Create 2 environments and the furniture within (5 or 6 pieces)

Unwrapped and textured the environments and Furniture

Now all along Josh had been keen for me to produce the models and have them viewable in Unity and up until this last week that had been my end goal, finish the models and rearrange them into scenes that people could look around on the computer. It would be a project sure but ultimately not one I would be happy with.

Then it hit me. There was something I had been doing throughout the entire project that was far more interesting than a couple of staged scenes. All along Id had one thing in mind, even looking back to the first semester it was there. The idea of me presenting my way of drawing and of realising characters in 2D into a 3D space. Would I be able to get the same characterisation and feeling that I have in 2D into 3D?

It requires me to look back and view how I’ve made my creations.

With each model I began with a hand drawn T-pose turn around and used a method of extruding polygon edges, this effectively means I’m tracing over the exact silhouette of the characters, that I’m sticking as close to the shapes I made them with as possible. Instead of using the sketch as a guide it’s a mould or a template.

I’ve stuck to low poly characters for both projects. I feel more comfortable working with fewer polys as I feel the textures do a bit more work meaning I can get the same quality as in my drawn stuff.

I’ve noticed that the higher the poly count the less the characters look like the sketches. The Vikings look exactly how I wanted them to, I stuck to the shapes quite faithfully with them.

For the textures this time I added one of my ink wash textures I created for my comic work. The idea was that it would look the colour was more organic looking than simple flat colours.

Out of the new set of models the one of Peabody is the one I’m happiest with. He looks pretty much the same as I draw him. The others however aren’t quite right.

D’Gorath looks ok but seems to need eyebrows drawn on. I had tried this before however and it looked ridiculous. Other than that I like the model. The suit as solid black worked really well and I’m glad I decided to keep it solid instead of going for a deep blue or grey.

Jack Jr looks terrifying he’s my least favourite of the models. The body turned out fine but the head looks horrible, it’s missing all the personality of the concept sketches. I’m putting this down to Jack Jr being the first human face I’ve tried to model properly. I got caught up in people’s advice about edge loops so instead of going with my gut and creating something that looked like the drawing I began trying to build according to conventions. I know conventions are there for a reason but I can’t help but feel that I’d have been better off just doing what I felt would work.

Spring heeled Jack turned out ok. The main thing for me is the brow. In the sketches he has deep-set yet large eyes. This was an odd thing to create in 3D and hes ended up with a Neanderthal brow. I’m happy with how his body turned out though (especially his belt buckle!)

The environments turned out good, I’m happy with the way they both look especially the indoor one, though it was definitely the biggest pain to model with. I found the backgrounds quite easy after characters, I was able to get a lot done in a day on each of them which is how I’ve taken to measuring my time frames in Maya.

So where does this leave the project now?

Well I have one character left to rig. After finishing that I intend to draw out the scenes then try to re create them in 3D, same angles expressions, everything. Once that’s done I’ll be able to draw comparisons between the two and see how it looks.

Wish me luck and check back here after next Friday when I shall be posting up my final progress!

(PS gun Peabody is holding is not by me, a Penman style gun will be coming soon!)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sessions 9 and 10

Firstly and apology to anyone who reads this blog for the lack of update last week. I was ill and got very little work done so didnt feel like posting up JUST the lecture stuff.

Session 9s lecture had an animator named Emma Calders, her stuff can be found at
Now after my embarrisingly inarticulate ramble about the last lecturer I was looking forward to another animator. Alas Emma Calders is one of THOSE animators, ones who cant really draw or animate that well. Her subject matter was often crude and uninspiring.
She used a variety of mediums from paint and ink to rubbish. Her stuff was in places childlike and in others terrifying. The childrens show she animated with characters made from rubbish and found objects looked nightmarish though the odd music that accompanied it was admittedly pretty awesome.
Now looking at my work you can probably guess what kind of animation I find interesting, but that's not to say that I write off something because it isn't done on the computer or with animation cells. This here is what I consider to be a good example of using paint for animation- Cory McAbee
Emma Calders did have one good piece of work that stood out from the terrifying childrens shows and animated turds. It was a rather striking piece called Queens Monastery and was done for the BBC. The reason I liked this out of all her stuff was because it showed a definate level of skill and there were some very nice bits of animation within it.

Session 10s lecture was surprise surprise another ceramicist Janice Tchalenko. As with the other ceramicists that have come in Janice was a lovely person who created things that didn't interest me. Thankfully her lecture also detailed alot about her life and she has led rather an interesting one.
From what I could gather she was something of a radical amongst the other ceramicists at the time and was someone who was genuinely successful to a point of being self sufficient. I put this down to her remarkable work ethic, the rate at which she produced pieces and how sensible a person she was in general.
Her talk about her time in China was enlightening, I've worked in a craft centre before and never once considered where all the ridiculous identical pots came from so it was an eyeopener to see her images of the pottery factories.
She also seemed to end up working with the most unlikely of people. The favourite of her pieces I saw were the 7 Deadly sins pots that she did with Roger Law of spitting image fame.

A couple of notable quotes from her were-

"I steal everything, digest it and then it comes out. There's nothing original in life so feel free to pinch my ideas"
" Museums like broken pieces stuck together, collectors like things whole."
"Gallery directors don't like change... Beware"

Ok, now onto the nitty gritty. The work I have produced so far.

I have successfully completed the last of the character models.
Jack Jr was an absolute pain in the arse to model, I was too busy listening to people opinions instead of getting stuff done so what should have been an easy enough model turned into an all consuming monster.
It all started with people comments about my D'Gorath model on Deviant art which got me onto asking about tris, then onto getting Ken Lau to crit my work. Now dont get me wrong Ken's crits helped improve the model but they also led me into unfamiliar ground and I lost my footing somewhat.
I spent so long trying to create a character that held no triangles that it became too much of a chore for me.
Here are some images of Jack Jr

Once the damn model was finally done I was pleased with the outcome but vowed that it shouldn't take me that long to model anything again.

I took what I had learnt from the previous models and began working on the last model. Springheeled Jack.
I began with an eye ball and began creating edge loops around the eye and mouth. Then instead of obsessively making sure there were no tris at all I used them sparingly, it made creating the hair and ear a lot easier as it lowered the amount of verts I had to work with.
When it came to the moustache I used the same trick as I did with Peabody's, I created it separately then combined the meshes and simply placed it into position, this saved me having to weld the complex shape into my mes and ruining the edge loops.
With the body I used the plane modelling technique but instead of extruding edges I used the bridge edges tool and then cut into the new polys with the edge loop tool so that I had divisions that I could manipulate making the model smoother.
I added loops around the legs as Ken had told me and then began making the hands.
The hands were a simple cube that I divided up with edge loops and began extruding faces to create the fingers and thumb. I wanted Jack to have long nails and knobbly hands so I manipulated the loops I added to allow the fingers to bend to give him pronounced knuckles.
Then came the belt buckle. After seeking out my friend Joe's advice I created the buckle in the same way as the moustache so that its a separate object that has been combined to the original mesh and then put in place.
Finally came the cape. Originally I was going to do it the moustache/buckle way but after again conferring with Joe he showed me how to turn it into an N Cloth. I don't know how well that will work out since I don't fully understand it be We'll see.
Here are the images of Jack

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Session 8

If there was a good way to articulate the sound of a long heavy sigh in the English language then that would be how this post would start, unfortunately I don't believe there is a way so its beginning with this sentence.
The generation of the sigh was due to the lecture we had this session and I feel bad for sighing, really I do.
The lecture was by a world renowned ceramicist named Ken Eastman. Ken was undoubtedly THE best speaker we've had so far. The way he delivered the lecture was perfect and I found myself liking him a lot. Alas it was the subject of the lecture that made me want to melt into a puddle of impotent and sleepy anger.
I'm constantly baffled by the practices of two disciplines- Product Design and Ceramics.
Now product design and I go way back (see session 5) so there's personal reasons for me not respecting it. Ceramics on the other hand was only introduced to me via the glorious contextual studies sessions at UCLAN and as soon as I had that first lecture (I believe it was a girl who put beads in concrete) I knew I wouldn't get along with it.
And why's that?


Despite the fact that he has been the best person at delivering a lecture we've had so far Ken Eastman just couldn't make me appreciate ceramics. It's a terribly dull and wholly useless thing to learn about unless you are actually a ceramicist.
I'm getting slightly concerned that I'm not going to have enough material for this next essay since I cant find a lot of worth in most of the lecturers that we've had. I like to think Im trying, and I do try to look at the positive side of them and get some good quotes that I could link in but by Christ I'm running out of patience now.

Incidentally the quotes are as follows-

"The more rules I impose the freer I get" This i agree with
"A good idea doesn't mean good work"
"Don't try to make a piece better just start another"

As for the other side of the Masters I have got most of the boy model done though the hair has been an absolute arse to get looking how I want it to.

I also did a pretty picture-

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sessions 6 and 7

Session 6 had an interesting talk by a director called Carolyn Corben.
She began her career as a fashion/textiles student and ended up doing alot of unique designs for adverts which led to her getting a directing debut doing idents for ITV Weather-

It was quite interesting to hear her thoughts on direction, one quote I got was- "Most important for direction is a strong independent creative vision"
She also believed that the current generation you needed to be a multi skilled worker to get a job.

During class I completed my D'Gorath model however Id had some criticism online as to the amount of Tris it contained. Brilliantly the internet is full of more talkers than doers so when I asked about tris I got a fat lot of nothing back. I took it upon myself to ask for the help of fellow tutor and student Ken Lau to crit the model. He took me through the things I could do to change which were mainly the hand and the crotch.
Here's a comparison of before and after Kens input

And here's the untextured model-

After that was done I got stuck into Peabody. All I really had to do was create the head for this one and tweak the body so it looked less muscular-

And then I began looking at the last two and certainly the more difficult models.
I decided to go for Jack Jr as I really like how the drawings of him have turned out.
Heres a picture of me starting the model

Ive been looking at Ken's blog for tips on how to get the loops on the face so that they work and its INFURIATING. There is some progress but its just slowwwww. Heres the more looped model WIP-

And finall I begun concepts for the environments.

Here is the orphanage roof

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Session 5

The lecture for this week was Amos Marchant a self proclaimed Industrial Designer.

I was reluctant to hear about Amos because he was there to talk to the Product Design students. Now I don't like product design, I was tricked into taking it at AS level and have despised it ever since. Despite my negative attitude when the lecture started I found myself admiring Amos and his work. Though aesthetically boring his stuff had a deep thought process behind it taking into consideration on how things would be transported and optimised for each of their functions.
He called himself a "Problem Solver" and this indeed he was. I also respected how he had conducted himself as a freelancer, being a freelancer myself it was interesting to see how his working environment progressed to the point of having a very tasty looking work space in London he'd designed for himself.
My favourite piece of his was his magnet wall clock which I was unfortunately unable to get a picture of.

I spoke about modelling to Josh this session, Id begun my D'Gorath model but it was broken in some way. The thing Id created needed major clean up which Josh told me how to do.
Basically I believe that as I have been extruding edges and faces I was creating extra ones underneath them. These proved difficult to locate by myself until Josh showed me a way of viewing the poly faces that meant the centre of the face showed a dot. Once this was activated I was able to see where thin faces were hiding amongst the normal faces.
Speaking of normals Josh also showed me about backface culling which shows the way the faces are pointing by making them transparent the way they are facing and opaque when viewed fom the opposite way.
It took a good few hours to fix everything but thanks to the setting Josh showed me I havent since been caught out by hidden faces.
I managed to create the suit which I saved as a seperate file so that I could re-use it for Peabody.

Once the suit was created I began fitting it to the shape of D'Goraths body and added his wings, tail and his hands (which I'm especially proud of)

Then I made another file that contained the shoulders of the D'Gorath model so that I could create his head in the correct dimensions. Sadly I have yet to finish this but heres an image of the progress.

I bought a book illustrated by Simon Bisley at the weekend and after analysing his painting style I have come to the conclusion that it has the same basic principle as Josh's method, a deep undercolour with lighter colours on top to build up the shape of the characters. I am adamant that I will get better at digital painting this year. I had a speedpainting example that I showed Josh but I am having a problem in that I think my stuff looks too timid and that the brush strokes lack confidence.
Here is the speed paint.-

Josh suggested to use less opacity so I had a go and produced this-

Then at the weekend I bought a Slaine book entitled the Horned God which I remember reading when I was younger. The comic was illustrated by Simon Bisley and I immediately saw parallels between the way Josh works and the way that Bisley works.
Taking the Slaine book on board I began this piece-

Though I lost the will to paint after I got to this stage. I realise my folly in that I rushed into painting and should have spent more time planning. The layout sketch looked great but it lacked any solid background detail so Im thinking of scrapping that background all together and re drawing one and taking some TIME on it.

And finally here's a collab piece I did with two of my friends, I provided the layout and the line art for the little girl ENJOY :)

Monday, 14 February 2011

Session 4

The lecture today was delayed horribly and I wasn't inspired with confidence when I found out it was the guy responsible for 2D TV that would be taking it. I don't like 2D TV, as far as socio-political satire goes its about as good as this- "I'm touching Bush" and of course "Dear SUCKER, I mean customer!"
These clips were played before we even met the guy and my blood b
egan to boil and no surprise here that he had a mac, never would have guessed with his Microsoft
bashing. The actual funniest thing was that the shiny "awesome" mac took about 30 goddamn minutes to set up. Score one for Windows.
I was fully prepared to not listen to what the guy had to say but I am g
lad I did. The lecture he presented was great and full of interesting clips and quotes. I spent more time listening and watching tan I did note taking but I got a few things down.

The guy was called Tim Searle who works at Baby Cow an English based animation studio that's produced animated features and adverts for a wide variety of companies.
He talked little of his own work but mentioned they were concentrating on projects with a focus on narrative and that at least one project was in partnership with Disney.
He had a lot to say on Bob Godfrey who was his chief inspiration in g
etting into animation and showed us this clip of an animtion Mr Godfrey had worked on "The Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit" he also provided us with this quote
“Animation is around at the moment in rather a small way. In twenty
or thirty years time it will be around in quite a big way. It’s going to keep growing because we’re moving into an audio-visual communications era. People are going to learn from the screen as opposed to books.” a prediction which has become true.
He also mentioned Pete Candeland who produced the fantastic Beatles Rock Band promo as well as the Gorillaz videos.
There was a nice vintage cartoon called Automania 2000 by Halas and Bachelor. There was this quote from Halas " Animation is the most contemporary form of human expression combining the elements of motion, storytelling, sound and space" That quote now app
lies to video games too. Halas also co-wrote Timing for Animation which looks like it woul
d be a good book to grab.

Searle often spoke of comedic timing which ties into my latest project, I can manage comedic timing in a drawn sequential sense but the trick will be to translate this
into something that is almost animated. He gave Astronauts by Matthew Walker as a good example of comedic timing and good use of resources.
And to end this section a nice quote from TS Elliot that Searle sold us
"If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter"

And with that quote ringing in the air we can go onto the sequential project I'm doing. It's looking like the story will weigh in at around 5 minutes long possibly less. I could h
ave drawn out the fight scene between Peabody & D'Gorath and the Spring Heeled Jack but I decided to keep it short and somewhat unsatisfying to hopefully grab a laugh.
I was quizzed as to when I would be starting the 3D models and reali
sed Id been putting it off out of fear of the possibly mammoth task ahead of me. It helped however to think of a check list of what I needed-

1- A model of Peabody
2- A model of D'Gorath
3- A model of the Springheeled Jack
4- A model of Jack's son
5- A model of a room in the orphanage
6- A model of the roof top of the orphanage

Now with resources in mind I have come up with some further ideas.
Peabody and D'Gorath both wear suits that are pretty much ide
ntical. With this in mind I will work on the suit first and save the file so that it can be altered then to fit each character hopefully saving me a lot of time.
Ill be building the body of the boy and two heads that will fit on it, one will be normal and the other will be the fanged transformed head.
The scenes will be limited to two locations so 4 or 5 scenes will take place in the same locales. This will cut down on the amount of work I need to do.
I need to start creating these things ASAP as it'll be a lot easier to have to do the drawn comic sections at the nth hour than the modelling!

Interestingly today one of my students showed me a technique in 3DS Max that I'm hoping might have a Maya counterpart. Its a physics bomb that would be useful for a glass smashing scene I have in mind.

And here are the final two character turn arounds.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Session 3 (a)

A few character turn arounds I did.

Sessions 1,2 and 3

So having been internetless for the past month or so I've let these blog posts pile up. Ill try to do my best to recount the past few weeks of the course.

Session 1

Session one was a simplistic affair.
It began with a simple introductory lecture from Steven Bennet who unfortun
ately won't be around this semester as he's too busy. I found Steven's attitude to his undertaking in the Masters quite refreshing so it'll be sad not to see him around so much.
This semester we have to complete a diary (hence this blog still going) and a review and reflection of the lectures we will see this semester.

The session with Josh was good, I received feedback on the previous semester and a reality check as to what I should be doing this semester.
Since starting this course I had a plan. That plan was to learn how to 3D model, learn how to animate and then get a job in the industry as an artist.

What a fool I was

Josh rightly pointed out that I simply wouldnt have the experience to compete for a job
especially against people that would have been doing it for much longer.
He suggested a diorama project, self contained scenes that told a story, he used the fantastic money show for the cadillac massacre in the Goon trailer as an inspiration point (which can be seen here
The dioramas would be done in Maya with ZBrush touch ups to make them nice and dynamic.
With this in mind I set out to plan my masterpieces.

Session 2

The lecture this sessions was told by the delightful Claire Norcross.

Claire studied an embroidery degree and started her career with a grant from the arts
council. During that time when she was dying nylon cloth she pondered as to what would happened if she dyed other types of nylon, mainly nylon zip ties.
The result was this lamp-

Soon she was approached by Habitat to sell the lamp in massive quantities and off the success of that landed a job as Habitat's lighting designer.
He work is a mixture of recycled materials and natural forms. The most interesting of her creations in my opinion was the lamp shade called Aperture-

Here we can see it fully open but the aperture has a few different forms that alter the amount of light it lets though and brilliantly it's made entirely of paper.
Its worth noting aswell that the lecture was not only informative but well presented and clear.

The second session with Josh and I still had nothing of worth to show. I couldn't figure out what to do for the dioramas but I had attempted Zbrush and found it to be an infuriating and unintuitive program to use. Josh pointed out that Zbrush is very much a progra
m that uses you as much as you use it. Here's my effort anyways.

I'm surprised I got this far with the program being as arsey as it was.

I took the opportunity to be taught a painting style by Josh as well as I wished to get better at digital painting as opposed to using flat colours. He showed me a method where you build up from a dark colour to a lighter shades gradually to give form to the image.
I had a go and it didn't work so well but I intended to practice some more.
We also chatted about the subject of the dioramas and settled on my characters Peabody and D''Gorath to tell a tale about.
I needed an antagonist for the project. originally it was going to be a horde of some sort of
creatures and I began doodling a scene where a creature had stolen a child and was perched on a lamppost above the duo as they looked for it. For some reason though I didnt like the idea of a horde of creatures as the idea began to form in my mind and instead I decided to look into the Springheeled Jack, a Victorian urban legend I knew about. The Springheeled Jack was a man shaped creature that looked like a gentleman with glowing red eyes who could leap over buildings in a single bound. I began to scribble down a character sketch and then inked it up-

I had a villain now I just needed a story.

Session 3

This session we were talk to by Richard Hooper assistant professor of fine art and design at Liverpool Hope.
He'd certainly led an eventful life having exhibitions and commissions around the world though the lecture itself wasn't as thrilling as its content. He produced a variety of aesthetic furniture with some of his more interesting pieces being interpretations of mathematical equations and natural forms. Of note were the pieces that were produced in CAD and CNC Milled.

One thing of note he mentioned was to not be bogged down by your BA work and to constantly produce and try to better yourself.

This session with Josh I spoke to him about an idea I had regarding my models that will tell a story. Id puzzled out through the week as to what the story could be and came to the conclusion that Id need more than a few models to tell a story. This led onto an idea about mixing 3D and 2D. It would be a comic with a few of the panels done in 3d. The story would be narrated and voice acted like old radio serials (or radio serial parodies with a theme song included. The
video would go from panel to panel with the narration then would fall into the 3D modelled sections which would be key panels in the story.
Josh liked the idea so I began plotting the story and simplified it into something that should take no more than a minute or two to run through.
I also practised some digital painting over a picture of Peabody and D'Gorath I had-

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and am going to attempt to get the 3d models to have the same texture as this picture.